Thread of Hope - Story of Rahab
I think a woman’s deepest need is to feel loved and if we are honest with ourselves, our own insecurities sometimes make us do things that we never wanted to do or take us places that we never intended to be taken.
Your presence is always felt and when you are gone, it is felt even more. Not because you are the hired help, but because you have huge influence in the lives of other. The greatest influence begins at home. With your husband and your children. You don’t believe it, but you can stake your life on this one.
Proverbs 14:1 tells us that a wise woman builds her house but a foolish one tears it down with her own hands.
What does that look like for us today?
Our attitudes in marriage
How we talk about other people
How we deal with conflict
How we deal with disappointment
Our expectations in our family
How we give love
We must learn to set our minds on the things above and not on the things of this world. We must have an eternal perspective in marriage, in parenting, in our family. Because so much of what we teach are just empty words unless we back it up with daily living.
We never know how our lives can influence and impact another. The enemy tells us that our lives don’t matter, that no one cares, that no one sees. But that is simply a lie. The bible is full of God’s Story meeting our stories and these ordinary people have influence that makes history. Believe it or not, good or bad, You are a woman of influence.
Let me take you through a walk in Scripture with the most unlikely woman who had influence that she could have never imagined. But first a little backstory…
The Israelites have been saved by God and taken out of Egypt by Moses. He was called to bring them to the Promised Land also known as Canaan. They would overtake and conquer it just as God told them. However, when Moses sent spies to scout out the land they came back with reports that the land was too difficult to conquer and that there was no way they could stand up to the giants of the land for they would look like grasshoppers next to them (Numbers 13)
So they are exiled to wander in the desert for 40 years. God is not happy. He has told them the land is theirs, but they are too afraid to act. They have relied upon their own strength, not the promises of God.
During this time the cities of Canaan continue to grow, while the Israelites also grow and continue to learn. God prepares them in heart and mind to take over the Canaanite cities and to take hold of the land of milk and honey that God promised to them through Abraham.
God is also instilling fear and unrest in the fortified cities of Canaan including Jericho. The reputation of the Israelites is known through their mighty and powerful God, YAWEH, the Covenant God.
40 years pass and Moses dies without entering the Promised Land but Joshua and Caleb are prepared to take the next step and follow God’s direction to take over what God has already promised to them. Their first city in the conquest is Jericho. It was a fortified city, meaning that it had large walls built all around it. No one was permitted to leave or enter it without strict guidelines.They send two spies into the city and they come to the house of a prostitute named Rahab. (Joshua 2:1)
When we come to places in Scripture like this I really want to know the back story and I start asking questions about why she was a prostitute? What life did she live that caused her to go into this lifestyle? We know that she has a family because it says so in Joshua 2:13. She had a father and a mother, she had sisters and brothers.
I speculate that there could have been a lot of reasons but let’s speculate that she had chosen her own path despite a loving family and found herself in an occupation of sin, exploitation, and estrangement from her family.
Continuing in chapter 2:2—13 Rahab is summoned by the king because through her very occupation and lifestyle she is known as one who would frequent many strangers and apparently even her occupation is used by the king as a counterspy for outsiders. But when the Israelite spies show up it is a different story. She lies and says she doesn’t know who they were or where they came from but they were already gone. She sends the soldiers on a wild goose chase across the hillside while hiding the Israelite spies upon her roof.
I believe that God had pricked her heart and this one true God of Israel was unlike any Canaanite or pagan God. She simply believed, and it was accounted to her by God as faith.
I think she was tired of this lifestyle. I think she was in hopeful anticipation of better things to come. I think she was terribly lonely in this journey and this is where God’s Story intersected Her Story. Because sometimes when we are most lonely, all we need is a sliver of hope. Hope which keeps our head above water and keeps us looking forward.
I wonder if Rahab now found that she had arrived to this destination. That she finally felt home. There was another God and that was the true God. The God of the Israelites is the God who never breaks His Promises - YAWEH,The Covenant God.
God had been preparing her all along to use her in such a way that she had hopeful anticipation of things to come. She knew too that she would have been destroyed when Israelites invaded but God intervened into a lonely heart that was ready for true intimacy. Not false intimacy that she had been paid for all these years.
When we come to the end of ourselves and the loneliness is too much to bear God intervenes.
Rahab says: (Joshua 2:8-13)
“I know that the Lord has given you this land and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and everyone who lives in the land is panicking because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the waters of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings you completely destroyed across the Jordan. When we heard this, we lost heart, and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below. Now please swear to me by the Lord that you will also show kindness to my family, because I showed kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father, mother, brothers, sisters, and all who belong to them, and save us from death.”
Rahab is asking for salvation and refuge. She was asked by the Israelite spies to hang a scarlet cord out of her window in order to recieve salvation and mercy. She hung her hope, the tiniest sliver of thread, by believing in one True Living God unlike any she had ever heard or encountered. The Israelites were God’s people and word traveled fast. The scarlet thread that saved Rahab begins to weave throughout her story and God’s story becomes her story which becomes HISTORY.
Rahab is not mentioned a lot after this major encounter but we hear parts of her story and her influence as it is woven throughout Scripture. Here are the things we do know. She is saved, her family is saved, she marries an Israelites and into the tribe of Judah. She is one of the first stories we see in Scripture of a Gentile being grafted into the line of Israel.
Can you see the symbolism here? The impact of her life, how one decision influenced another first for bad through her lifestyle choices but then through good through her faith and God completely redeemed all the ugliness of her past.
We have to fast forward to Matthew 1 – Where the old testament meets the new testament and God’s story of redemption continues to weave her life with his divine plan.
Salmon fathered Boaz by Rahab,
Boaz fathered Obed by Ruth,
Obed fathered Jesse,
and Jesse fathered King David.
Rahab was the mother of Boaz and the mother in law of Ruth
She was the grandmother of Obed
The great-grandmother of Jesse
And the great-great grandmother of King David
But it gets better because this genealogy continues all the way down to verse 16….and Jacob fathered Joseph the husband of Mary, who gave birth to Jesus who is called the Messiah.
17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were 14 generations; and from David until the exile to Babylon, 14 generations; and from the exile to Babylon until the Messiah, 14 generations.
Rahab the prostitute, tossed aside, used, turns her life towards YAWEH the true God, hangs a literal thread of hope on her salvation in this true and living God and her influence is monumental….
A prostitute of Jericho is saved, she is redeemed, and she is restored by being wed into the tribe of Judah. And just like that she is grafted into the family of Jesus Christ. Just like us.
What is the story He is writing in your life today?
We think that we know how the story will end. We think that this is the final chapter and we have the ending all figured out. But as long as we live and breathe on this earth, God’s story is not complete in our lives. You have influence! Don't close the book. God is still writing. Your Story is not over yet.